Ayanna Howard
Dr. Ayanna Howard
Georgia Institute of Technology
GA

More Engineers!

Nesli Kohen
Jamie Steinberger
Shelby Sutton
Kristy Rasbach
Anjali Sardana
Melinda Piket-May
Shubhi Asthana
Karen Strauss
Melanie Cragnolin
Missy Cummings
Katrina Regan
Megan Harrington
Close Up
  • Why Engineering?
    I was inspired by the TV show “The Bionic Woman,” in which a severely injured woman attains extraordinary powers through artificial (bionic) limbs.  I decided at age 11 that I wanted to create artificial limbs for people. I planned to go to medical school, but discovered I hated biology—especially dissecting frogs. Then I heard about robotics and realized that, if I became an engineer, I could do exactly what I wanted to do.
  • School Days
    B.S. in electrical engineering, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.
  • My Day At Work
    I teach and conduct research at Georgia Tech.  I am working to discover new ways that robots can help both in space exploration and in assisting people on Earth.
  • Proud Moments
    Working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I developed the next generation of Mars rover. Through artificial intelligence, this robot will be independent-minded enough to explore the Martian terrain on its own, without having its every move programmed by a human.
  • Want to be an Engineer?
    Don't be afraid to learn the basics, and definitely keep your imagination alive. After all, engineering is about bringing new things to life!
  • Additional Thoughts
    I was inspired by the TV show “The Bionic Woman,” in which a severely injured woman attains extraordinary powers through artificial (bionic) limbs.
  • Hobbies
    I like traveling and going to see live jazz bands. I also love watching science fiction movies and cartoons with my son.
Biography

Ayanna has designed robots that can think for themselves. When she was at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, she worked on developing the next generation of Mars rover. Through artificial intelligence, this robot was designed to be independent-minded enough to explore the Martian terrain on its own, without having its every move programmed by a human. On a future mission to Mars, Ayanna's robot would have been able to collect and analyze data and samples that may help determine whether life ever existed on the Red Planet. Ayanna is now teaching and researching at Georgia Tech, working to discover new ways that robots can help both in space exploration and in assisting people on Earth.  Inspired by the TV show “The Bionic Woman,” in which a severely injured woman attains extraordinary powers through artificial (bionic) limbs, Ayanna decided at age 11 that she wanted to create artificial limbs for people. She planned to go to medical school, but discovered she hated biology—especially dissecting frogs. Then she heard about robotics and realized that, if she became an engineer, she could do exactly what she wanted to do.  Ayanna developed a math and science mentoring program for junior high school girls. She’s also volunteered as a computer tutor at a shelter for battered women. She likes traveling and going to see live jazz bands. Ayanna also loves watching science fiction movies and cartoons with her son.  See a great video of Ayanna and her Mars robot on PBS’s Dragonfly TV. 

Read More Read Less
Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
Latest Questions
  • lalaine asked Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology

    Added Thursday, September 13, 2018 at 10:22 PM

    Hi Dr. Howard! I am going to occupational therapy school and am very interested in integrating technology (i.e. robotics, assistive devices) and Occupational Therapy (our goal is to improve patient's physical function). What role can OTs play in the design of robotics? What computer coding languages would be useful for OTs to pick up if they are interested in working with robotics as well?. Thank you, I am inspired by what you do!
    Related to Computers, Engineering Skills, Medicine, Merging Fields, Preparation for College, Special fields and Interdisciplinary
    Answers 1
    Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Answered Friday, September 21, 2018 at 3:52 PM
    OTs and PTs are especially important in the design of robots for therapy. They are instrumental in terms of determining what types of robot behaviors are optimal for improving patient outcomes, designing appropriate human-robot interaction therapy ...Read More
  • Mariam asked Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology

    Added Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at 1:24 PM

    Hi! I'm in a summer program for Girls Who Code, and we recently had a debate on whether robots can actually think or would have the ability to think like humans do. I personally don't think so, but this question really interests me. Thanks!
    Related to Computer, Electrical
    Answers 1
    Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Answered Monday, July 30, 2018 at 8:54 AM
    Yes, robots can be taught to think and taught to mimic the decision-making power of humans, but they do not process information exactly the same way humans do. For example, we can teach robots to recognize emotions by figuring out how humans recognize ...Read More
  • Cat Monty asked Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology

    Added Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 11:10 AM

    I'm researching you for school project and you are pretty amazing
    Answers 1
    Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Answered Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 1:39 PM
    I truly do enjoy designing, building, and programming the intelligence of robotic systems. Robotics allows me to not only be creative by using my engineering and computer science skills but allows me to geek out on amazing technology.
View More